Despite the president’s best subversion efforts — which he indicated in a Thursday appearance on Fox & Friends he could soon ramp up — Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into his team for possible cooperation with Russia in their efforts to alter the outcome of the 2016 election continues.
Although Mueller has not broadcast every movement of his inquiry, one persistent area of concern is a June 2016 meeting involving Donald Trump Jr., former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, and a Russian lawyer named Natalia Veselnitskaya held at Trump Tower in New York.
There is new information out thanks in part to emails of Veselnitskaya’s that were shared with a Russian opposition organization that makes that meeting even more strikingly out of place.
As The New York Times reports, emails released by an organization called Dossier on Friday show Veselnitskaya cooperating with Russian authorities in their efforts to craft a response to American legal scrutiny of a certain prominent Russian businessman, Denis Katsyv, back in 2014. Veselnitskaya worked on Katsyv’s defense team and at the same time, helped Russian prosecutor general Yuri Chaika’s office craft their response to a U.S. Justice Department request for records related to the businessman.
In the end, the Russian government denied the Justice Department’s request for assistance, even though there is a treaty in place demanding law enforcement cooperation between our two countries. In turn, the Justice Department ended up settling its fraud case against Katsyv and his real estate company known as Prevezon Holdings Ltd. for about $6 million, although the businessman has yet to pay up.
Veselnitskaya did not exactly deny the new allegations about her closer than previously reported ties to the Russian government. In an interview that NBC is broadcasting on Friday, she commented:
‘I am a lawyer, and I am an informant. Since 2013, I have been actively communicating with the office of the Russian prosecutor general.’
Talk about a condemning way to describe oneself in the current political climate.
This “informant” for the Russian government is the individual Donald Trump Jr. was thrilled to meet in 2016 under the pretext of getting damaging information on his father’s then-opponent, Hillary Clinton, drawn from Russian government efforts against her.
In the time since, Trump Jr. has sought to downplay the significance of the case because he supposedly didn’t actually get any actionable information from his meeting with Veselnitskaya. That’s not exactly a solid legal defense, however. You don’t get a free pass just because you failed in your attempt to commit a possible crime.
As time goes on, the Trump team’s insistence that the meeting was completely innocent falls apart further and further. The very talking points that Veselnitskaya brought with her to the meeting with the Trump associates match information that was shared inside the Russian prosecutor general’s office.
The president, however, continues to remain willfully ignorant to the very real “cloud” of questions about possible cooperation with the Russians that hangs over himself and his team. As recently as Friday morning, he angrily asserted on Twitter that the Russia investigation “MUST END NOW!”
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